Sunday, February 28, 2021

Jamaican History: A Toast to Those Now Gone

We're gonna wrap up Black 'istree Month by honoring a recently-passed Rap forefather and icon of Reggae music.

One of those artists that, for whatever reason, doesn't have much in the way of archival or unissued material that we know about.

Widely credited as the originator of what became known as Toasting -- essentially detouring a song you're either singing yourself, or playing on your Sound System to move the crowd, into a spoken word interlude, featuring a sort of proto-rapping style -- he created a bridge between the worlds of the DJ and the proper singer that has only widened since.

 His Jamaican innovations in the late 1960s and early 1970s helped to spark the Rap revolution that was soon to follow in the South Bronx.

He began musical life as a deejay in the early 1960s and began shifting to the mic as that decade unfolded, with stopping-off points in the Sound System orbits of luminaries like Coxsone Dodd and King Tubby.

By the end of the Sixties, he got so popular with his toasting over records that he was drafted into the studio to begin recording songs of his own, prominently emphasizing the new spoken style he almost singlehandedly had invented over the course of the previous decade.

Eventually he became Reggae royalty, as well as becoming credited for having helped kick off Rap and Hip-Hop in the process.

In the decades since he established himself, he went around the world as a kind of unofficial Reggae ambassador, touring extensively as well as recording.

Ten days ago, multiple ailments caught up to him, and he died at the age of 78.

Died in the physical sense, because it's easy to see why U-Roy -- one of the foundational pioneers of the music of our age -- will live forever.

Like I alluded to, there isn't a whole wealth of unreleased stuff of his, but there is this tremendous set from the Sierra Nevada Festival in Northern California, which I have touched up with repairs to its various outstanding sonic errors.

Look out for Roots bass legend "Fully" Fullwood leading the band, too.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
Angels Camp, California USA

01 introduction
02 Babylon Burning  
03 Chalice In the Palace
04 Amen
05 Jah Jah Call You
06 Money, Money
07 I'm Still In Love
08 Kung Fu Fighting incl. band introductions
09 Wear You to the Ball
10 This Station Rules the Nation
11 Soul Rebel
12 Have Mercy
13 Same Song
14 Pass the Kutchie

Total time: 58:36

U-Roy - vocals
with The "Fully" Fullwood Band:
Tony Chin - guitar
George "Fully" Fullwood - bass
Jawge Hughes - keyboards
Stephanie, Enroy "Tenor" Grant & Egion - horns
Lady Gina & Lady Gigi - vocals
Santa Davis - drums

sounds like a master DAT from the mixing desk
dropouts repaired, noise bursts removed, and slightly retracked by EN, February 2021

That will about do it for February and the BHM festivities for another year.

I'll start to march on March now, but I thought it was the perfect ending to the month to honor this monumental innovator, gone from us now on his journey to the next I-Risin'.--J.

9.21.1942 - 2.17.2021

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